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Bible Commentaries

Gann's Commentary on the Bible

Galatians 5

Verse 1

Key thought of the chapter is Galatians 5:13.

This first verse properly belongs to the previous chapter, should end ch. 4. Goes with Galatians 4:31.

Stand fast -- "Therefore stand firm", be firm, unwavering. Greek tense = "keep on standing therefore."

in the liberty -- "freedom"; The first phrase in the Greek in this sentence, emphasis is here.

The sense is, that they were to be firm and unyielding in maintaining the great principles of Christian liberty. They had been freed from the bondage of rites and ceremonies; and they should by no means, and in no form, yield to them again. - BN

for freedom -- "For freedom" shows the purpose for Christ setting us free; (NET)

"for freedom, therefore, stand firm, unwavering." (WG)

Christ has made [set] us free -- "made us free" is all one word, properly "liberated". "Christ has liberated us." (WG)

1) In Romans 6:12-16 we learn that in Christ we have freedom from the bondage of sin.

2) Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:19 says we have freedom from conscience concerning sins in the past. 3) Romans 2:4-10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Hebrews 10:27 says we have deliverance from the wrath of God which is to be manifested against all sin and ungodliness.

4) Hebrews 2:14-15; 2 Timothy 2:26 says we are delivered from the tyranny of Satan.

do not be entangled [held; burdened; submit;] again -- A common word for "ensnare" by a trap. Tyndale render this, "And wrap not yourselves again."

The sense is, do not again allow such a yoke to be put on you; do not again become slaves to any rites, and customs, and habits.

the yoke of slavery [bondage] -- Speaking of servitude to the Jewish laws, See the note at Acts 15:10, regarding the "yoke" of the Mosaic Law.

Sermon: Price Tags of Freedom.

1) 1833 Crown colony of Jamaica, "Freedom at Last"

2) Freedom and America. "conceived in liberty."

1. Committment motto on coins, May 18, 1908.

2. Consistency Galatians 5:1 (a), Galatians 5:7 Winston Churchill, WW2 at Harrow

3. Caution Galatians 5:1 (b), Galatians 5:13 Child more right than responsible.

Verse 2

Behold -- Look! Listen, pay attention; "Mark my words!" (NIV);

[ Ἴδε ἐγὼ Παῦλος λέγω ὑμῖν ]

I -- I, G1473 (1st person, nominative, singular, pronoun), placed for emphasis.

I, Paul, who at first preached the gospel to you.

say to you -- Apparently directed to the Gentiles listening to the false Judaizing teachers.

if -- May indicate they had not yet been circumcised. Acts 15:1 ff.

if you become [receive; accept] circumcised -- If they allowed themselves to be circumcised for the purpose of being saved spiritually they would nullify Christ’s work on their behalf, since His death had already redeemed them from the law (Galatians 4:4-5).

Not like the purpose for which Timothy had been circumcised Acts 16:3.

Christ will profit you nothing -- Christ will be of no advantage to you, no value, no profit. Your dependence on circumcision will in fact amount to a rejection of Christ and justification by what he accomplished on the cross.

Verse 3

Moreover, I testify again -- Paul had probably said this before when he preached the gospel to them first. He now solemnly bears witness to the same thing again.

Some suppose that the word "again" here (πάλιν palin) means, "on the other hand," or, “furthermore,” or, as we would say, “and again.,” and may simply just be summarizing what he has just said.

Galatians 5:3-4 are at once a solemn reiteration of the truth stated in Galatians 5:2, and an explanation of it. - CGk

every man that receives circumcision -- In the same sense just expressed in Galatians 5:2 (see note). If they allowed themselves to be circumcised, religiously, for the purpose of being justified before God.

he is debtor to do the whole law -- Acts 15:10. Accepting Jewish circumcision obligated and bound one to obey all the Law of Moses, with all its rites and ceremonies (special food restrictions, days, months and years.)

Thus a man is entirely under law, or not under law at all. Obviously, if he is entirely under law, Christ is valueless to him. - (BBC)

Verse 4

You have become estranged -- severed, of no effect, freed from, cut off from. You will derive no advantage from Christ. His work in regard to you is needless and vain. If you can be justified in any other way than by him, then of course you do not need him. (BN)

who would be justified [made righteous] by the Law -- Those who would seek to be made right with God through keeping the Law of Moses are derived of any benefit or blessing from what Christ accomplished at Calvary. To such Law keepers, the work of Christ was in vain. If justification with God can be found any other way then the sacrifice Christ made at the cross was not needed, and is in vain.

you are fallen from grace -- To seek justification any other way other than through Christ is to fall God’s favor and mercy to a life of legal, ritual entanglement. For the Galatians, or anyone else, to turn from Christ and His Gospel amounts to apostasy from the Faith.

To turn from Christ and His teaching, the way of life and worship he teaches, is to fall from God’s favor, his grace, and to be lost to him.

See James 5:19 note on APOSTASY

Verse 5

For we -- Paul now speaks of the real expectation of Christians.

through the Spirit -- Through the teachings given us by the Holy Spirit.

wait for -- The Greek literally "out of faith the hope of righteousness we wait for." The way we expect to be make right with God is through the system of Faith (the Gospel), and not by the Law of Moses.

the hope [expectation] of righteousness -- Our expectation of being made right with God is through Christ.

Verse 6

For in Christ Jesus -- For those in the body of Christ, his church. In the teaching (the Gospel) which Christ gives us, Romans 1:16-17.

neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything -- It makes no difference whether a man is circumcised or not. He is not saved because he is circumcised, nor is he condemned because he is not.

The design of Christianity is to abolish these rites and ceremonies, and to introduce a way of salvation that shall be applicable to all mankind alike; see the Galatians 3:28, note; 1 Corinthians 7:19, note; compare Romans 2:29. - BN

but faith working by love -- The way the system of Faith works is by loving Christ and God with all our heart and following His will for us. Mark 12:30; Matthew 7:21.

"By" here is δι’ dia, which Thayer says is a preposition showing "the ground or reason by which something is or is not done; 1) by reason of; 2) on account of." G1223.

love -- John 14:15.

Verse 7

You were running well. -- The Christian life is often represented as a race; 1 Corinthians 9:24-26. Paul means here, that the Galatians began following the Christian life in Christ faithfully, apparently with ardor and zeal; compare Galatians 4:15.

who hindered [impeded] you --

hinder -- The word used here (ἀνακόπτω anakoptō) means properly to beat or drive back. Hence, it means to hinder, check, or retard.

One example of this word is found in "an Olympic expression" which signified a by-stander, or another runner, cutting across the course in front of a runner in such a way that jostled him and threw him to the side. (Doddridge).

In the military sense, the word meant the act of destroying a road in the face of an oncoming enemy.

from obeying the truth? -- The system of justification through Christ found in his Gospel is here called "the Truth." Christ’s message is to be embraced and followed (obeyed). When one turns aside from it he fall from God’s grace Galatians 5:4.

Paul uses "obeying the truth" as a way of expressing "obeying the gospel." Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17; (Romans 2:8; Galatians 3:1; Galatians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:22;)

Verse 8

This persuasion -- This belief that it is necessary to obey the laws of Moses, and to intermingle the observance of Jewish rites with the belief of the Christian doctrines in order to be saved.

The persuasion (peismonç) is closely tied to the obeying, being derived from the same Greek root. This is the only use of the noun form in the New Testament. - CPNT

not from the one who calls you -- There is a question whether the "from him" or the "one" who calls them refers to God here or to Paul. 1) It would seem that Paul is tracing the Gospel back to God and Christ and calling men to him. Matthew 11:28; Matthew 22:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 2) If the reference is to Paul, then he called them through the gospel he preached,. See note at Galatians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:14. (#1 is to be preferred.)

Paul is saying that the belief that circumcision and law-keeping should be added to faith in Christ does not come from God. (BBC)

calls -- The tense here suggest the continuous call of the living God. See 1 Thessalonians 2:12.

Verse 9

A little leaven -- This is evidently a proverbial expression.

A small quantity of leaven or yeast will pervade the entire mass of flour, or dough, and diffuse itself through it all. The expression occurs also in 1 Corinthians 5:6; Compare the note at Matthew 13:33.

A similar figure occurs also in the Greek classic writers - By leaven the Hebrews metaphorically understood whatever had the power of corrupting, whether doctrine, or example, or anything else. See Matthew 16:6.

The sense here is plain. A false teacher teaching error can spread corruption throughout the entire church unless it is removed.

Verse 10

I have confidence -- Paul had confidence that they would return and embrace the truth he delivered to them.

in you in the Lord -- Paul placed his trust, confidence, "into" them, in the Lord.

that you will think nothing else -- "will take [adopt, NASV] no other view," NIV, ESV; Paul is confident that they will take (follow) what he has taught them, the view, mind, which they were first taught and accepted.

but the one troubling you -- The one leading you into this false teaching that "justification" is through the Law. No particular individual is identified. There were probably several Judaizers, Acts 15:1; Acts 15:5.

will bear the judgment -- the penalty, ESV, NIV; punishment, NCV. The one teaching this false doctrine will have to bear the judgment against him.

Whether that judgment is from God, and endures God’s wrath; or whether it is from the church who disciplines him and expels him from their fellowship, or both.

whoever he is. -- Paul does not mention the false teacher(s) by name. Whether Paul knew who the individuals were is unsure. The Galatians would know whom Paul meant.

Verse 11

But if I, brethren, -- Paul proceeds to vindicate himself against charges apparently made by the Judaizers.

preach circumcision still, -- Before his own conversion Paul (Saul) had been very zealous in the teaching and traditions of the Jews, Acts 22:3; Galatians 1:14. Perhaps the false teachers were saying they were only teaching what Paul himself had insisted upon. But here the key word is "still" ( ἔτι eti, yet, still G2089 ADV ). Paul no longer preached what he once did when he was himself a persecutor of "the way." Acts 22:4. 1 Corinthians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:1; Galatians 5:24; Galatians 6:14;

why am I still being persecuted? -- If Paul still taught that keeping of the Law, (i.e., circumcision) was necessary for justification, he would not be persecuted by those who insisted on keeping the Law.

The fact that the Jews still persecuted him and that they rejected the message of the cross was sufficient answer to their accusation that Paul preached the necessity for circumcision.

Then the preaching of the cross has ceased to be an offense. -- Paul offended the Jews, and was persecuted by them for his preaching that salvation was by the cross of Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 1:23;

"If I still taught circumcision, my preaching of the cross would not be a problem." NCV

Verse 12

I would that they were cut off -- Barnes would not understand this literally as many do, but that Paul wished the troublemakers were cut off from fellowship with the churches in Galatia. Paul may be suggesting they be dis-fellowshiped, or excommunicated from the churches.

Most commentators, even from ancient times, understand Paul to be making a pun here, or a play on words. Since the Judaizers insisted on circumcision, the Cambridge Greek says, that Paul’s expression is: "I wish that all those who upset you would, while they are about it make themselves altogether eunuchs!"

The word for "cut off" here is ἀποκόπτω, apokoptō, which Thayer says mean "to cut off, amputate."

Barclay in the DSB translates the verse, "I wish that those who are upsetting you would get themselves not only circumcised but castrated!"

They were zealous in using the knife to circumcise others; now let the knife be used to make them eunuchs. It is probably preferable to take the words figuratively; in other words, Paul wishes that the false teachers were cut off from the Galatians altogether. - BBC

"Mutilate" is used in the sense of "castration." It is known from history that the cult of Cybele, which was present in the province of Galatia, castrated all of their priests (eunuchs). Paul was making a sarcastic hyperbole of circumcision (as is Philippians 3:2, where he calls them "dogs"). - Utley

those who trouble you -- The Judaizing teachers who were perverting the truth and introducing error into the church. Error and troublemakers have to be dealt with, 1 Corinthians 5:7.

Verse 13

#5 Called to Liberty - v. 13

called to liberty -- Free from bondage to the Law of Moses; free from Jewish rites and ceremonies; see the notes at Galatians 3:28; Galatians 4:9, , Galatians 4:21-31; freed from sin, Galatians 5:16-26.

The Christian is not Free from all Law!

Romans 8:2 Law of the Spirit

Galatians 6:2 Law of Christ

James 1:25 Perfect Law of Liberty

only do not use liberty ... -- Christian liberty is not a license to sin. Romans 5:20 - Romans 6:1; Romans 6:15.

Liberty -- Note: From -- To; Not to fleshly indulgences.

Liberty + Love = service to others.

Liberty - Love = license (slavery to sin.)

opportunity for the flesh -- The word flesh is often used in the writings of Paul to denote corrupt and gross passions and affections; see the notes at Romans 7:18; Romans 8:1.

[Note the definition of "flesh" as used by the KJV translators: The desire of man’s heart to yield to that which is unrighteous and unholy. (See Stanley’s "Walking by the Spirit." #22)]

but through love serve [be servants of] one another -- Paul does not consider them as freed from all law and all restraint; but they are to be governed by the law of love. When there is love there is no servitude. Duty is pleasant, and serving others in kindness is very agreeable.

serve one another -- Contrasted with liberty. Free to be slaves to one another.

Note: allos - "one another" passages Galatians 5:13; Galatians 5:15; Galatians 5:26, Galatians 6:2.

1) Serve each other in spirit of love.

2) Bear one another’s burden in love.

Verse 14

All the law -- This item expresses the substance of the whole law. A similar sentiment he has expressed in Romans 13:8-10; see the notes at that passage.

You shall love your neighbor -- Even the Law of Moses taught the truth! "Love thy neighbor as thyself." Leviticus 19:18. See note at Matthew 19:19, for what loving our neighbor includes.

Verse 15

But if you bite -- By an improper use of the tongue. The word used here (δάκνω daknō), means, properly, to bite, to sting; and here seems to be used in the sense of contending and striving - a metaphor probably taken from dogs and wild beasts.

and devour one another -- As wild beasts do. The sense is, “if you contend with each other;” and the reference is, apparently, to the strifes which would arise between the two parties in the churches - the Jewish and the Gentile converts.

beware lest you be consumed -- Destroyed. As wild beasts contend sometimes until both are slain. Thus, the idea is, in their contentions they would destroy the spirituality and happiness of each other; their characters would be ruined; and the church be overthrown.

Verse 16

So I say then -- Paul gives the rule for avoiding the evils of strife and contention.

Walk -- The Christian life is often represented as a journey, and the word walk, in the scripture, is often equivalent to live; Mark 7:5. See the notes at Romans 4:12; Romans 6:4; Romans 8:1.

Walk in the Spirit -- Live according to the teaching and direction of the Holy Spirit; follow the influences of God’s Spirit in you hearts.

Paul states what following the Holy Spirit would produce in their lives in Galatians 5:22-23.

and the lust of the flesh you will not fulfill [carry out] -- We are to live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and give over to corrupt evil passions which are sinful. The passions of the worldly minded man are stated in Galatians 5:19-21.

flesh -- Previously a physical term, but now an ethical condition.

Notice the definition of FLESH as used by translators: The desire of man’s heart to yield to that which is unrighteous, unholy, ungodly. (See Stanley’s "Walking by the Spirit." #22)

Walking by the Spirit is to walk, or live, according to the way God wants man to live, in righteousness and holiness. To live according to the flesh is to give in to the desire to live contrary to the way God wants man to live.

Verse 17

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit -- The inclinations and desires of the carnal minded man are contrary to those of the Spirit. They draw us away in an opposite direction, and while the Spirit would lead us one way, our carnal nature would lead us another, and thus produce the painful controversy which exists in our minds.

The word “Spirit” here refers either to man’s spirit, or to the Spirit of God, and to the influences of his teachings on the heart.

lusts -- warring; G1937; ἐπιθυμέω epithumeō; Thayer Definition: 1) to turn upon a thing; 2) to have a desire for, long for, to desire; 3) to lust after, covet; 3a) of those who seek things forbidden.

G1937 WordStudy ἐπιθυμέω, epithuméō; contracted epithumṓ, fut. epithumḗsō, from epí (G1909), in, and thumós (G2372), the mind. To have the affections directed toward something, to lust, desire, long after.

Generally (Luke 17:22; Galatians 5:17; Revelation 9:6). To desire in a good sense (Matthew 13:17; Luke 22:15; 1 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 6:11; 1 Peter 1:12); as a result of physical needs (Luke 15:16; Luke 16:21); in a bad sense of coveting and lusting after (Matthew 5:28; Romans 7:7; Romans 13:9; 1 Corinthians 10:6 [cf. James 4:2; Sept.: Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21; Deuteronomy 14:26; 2 Samuel 3:21; Proverbs 21:26]).

Deriv.: epithumētḗs (G1938), one who desires; epithumía (G1939), desire.

Syn.: sumpathéō (G4834), to like, sympathize; agapáō (G25), to love; homeíromai or himeíromai (G2442), to have a strong affection for, yearn after; orégomai (G3713) or epipothéō (G1971), to long after; thélō (G2309), to wish, implying volition and purpose; boúlomai (G1014), to will deliberately, design; thélō; zēlóō (G2206), to have a zeal for; aitéō (G154), to ask, desire; epizētéō (G1934), to seek earnestly; exaitéomai (G1809), to desire earnestly.

Ant.: apostréphomai (G654), to turn away from; pheúgō (G5343), to shun; miséō (G3404), to hate.

and the desires of the Spirit ... -- ESV. By capalizing "Spirit" the ESV interprets this to be the Holy Spirit. It could be that man’s inner spirit wants to do what is right, but the lusts of the flesh draws the other way.

contrary -- opposed to each other, ESV. They are opposite in their nature.

Paul illustrates this by showing what each produces, Galatians 5:19-23.

that the thing you may wish, these you may not do -- That you do not do that which you wish to do.

See this sentiment of Paul illustrated also at Romans 7:15-19, and notes.

Verse 18

if you are led by the Spirit -- Romans 8:1-2. Walking after the Spirit is to live according the way God wants us to live, in righteousness, holiness, and godliness. Submitting to the teachings and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

you are not under the law -- The Christian is under the new covenant ratified by the blood of Christ. It is the real, genuine covenant which was shadowed in the Mosaic covenant.

Verse 19

v. 19 Sexual sins

v. 20 Pagan practices

v. 21 Sins of disposition

Sins of indulgences

Sins of inner qualities

"Going to heaven doesn’t depend on one’s position, but disposition."

the works of the flesh -- Paul now illustrates the fruit of giving over to the carnal nature of man. Man’s "natural" desires since the fall of Adam and Eve.

See also Paul’s list in 2 Corinthians 12:20, a list of causes of church division.

WORKS - James 2:24, James 2:26, John 12:42, Galatians 5:6, Acts 10:34-35, Matthew 7:21, Hebrews 5:9.

Kinds of Works

1. Works of the flesh- Galatians 5:19-21

2. Our own works- Acts 7:41, 2 Timothy 1:9

3. Works of the law of Moses Galatians 2:16

4. Works of obedience- Acts 10:34-35, Luke 6:46, John 6:29.

τὰ ἔργα τῆς σαρκός. [feminine] (see Galatians 5:16 and cf. also James 1:15). The phrase in Greek here is unique (Note the gender, to match the case of the following words) . Compare τὰ ἔργα τοῦ σκότους, [neuter] Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:11; and, τά ἔργα τοῦ διαβόλου [masculine] 1 John 3:8.

manifest -- apparent, evident, known. Manifest, i.e., to be plainly recognized or known.

The world is full of illustrations of what corrupt human nature produces. It is evident here that the word σὰρξ sarx, “flesh,” is used to denote man’ evil nature, and not merely the body; since many of the enumerated vices are the passions of the mind or the soul, rather than of the body.

adultery -- G3430, N-NSF, adultery. (Apparently some MSS omit this word.)

ἅτινά ἐστιν πορνεία. à*ABCP vulg. syrpesh.

μοιχεία is inserted after ἐστιν by Text. Rec. with àcD(G)KL syrHarcl.

[Some translations combine the words "adultery, fornication" into a more general "sexual immorality." Perhaps losing the general distinction of the English and Greek meanings of these words.]

fornication -- G4202, N-NSF, πορνεία, porneia , Thayer Definition:

1) illicit sexual intercourse

1a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.

1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18

1c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mark 10:11,Mark 10:12

2) metaphorically the worship of idols

2a) of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols

uncleanness -- Impurity, uncleanness, G167, N-NSF, in the moral sense of impure motives and conduct.

lustfulness -- lasciviousness; sensuality, lewdness, licentiousness, ἀσέλγεια, G766 N-NSF, unbridled shameless display of sensuality.

Verse 20

idolatry -- ειδωλολατρεια, eidōlolatreia, Idolatry G1495 N-NSF;

1) the worship of false gods, idolatry

1a) of the formal sacrificial feasts held in honour of false gods

1b) of avarice, as a worship of Mammon

2) in the plural, the vices springing from idolatry and peculiar to it

The connexion of immorality with heathen worship readily leads St Paul to mention idolatry. - Cambridge Greek NT

sorcery -- φαρμακεια witchcraft G5331 N-NSF pharmakeía; gen. pharmakeías, fem. noun from phármakon (n.f.), a drug, which in the Greek writers is used both for a curative or medicinal drug, and also as a poisonous one.

Pharmakeía means the occult, sorcery, witchcraft, illicit pharmaceuticals, trance, magical incantation with drugs (Galatians 5:20; Revelation 9:21; Revelation 18:23; Sept.: Exodus 7:22; Isaiah 47:9, Isaiah 47:12).

witchcraft -- Sorcery = pharmakeia, (The Greek word from which we get pharmacy)"the use of drugs."

φαρμακία, “sorcery.” The use of drugs not as medicines but as media in magic; veneficia Vulg. So in Exodus 7:11 al. of the “enchantments” whereby the Egyptian magicians performed their wonders. Cf. Revelation 9:21; Revelation 18:23. Lightfoot points out the “striking coincidence, if nothing more,” that sorcery was condemned at the Council of Ancyra, the capital of North Galatia, about A.D. 314. For the connexion of such magic with idolatry see Revelation 21:8. - Cambridge Greek NT

enmity -- εχθραι hatred G2189 N-NPF, hating, hostility, (giving cause for hatred)

strife -- variance, fightings, contention, wrangling, ερεις variance, G2054 N-NPF

wrath, strife, εριθειαι, eritheia, strife G2052 N-NPF

1) electioneering or intriguing for office

1a) apparently, in the NT a courting distinction, a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and fractious spirit which does not disdain low arts

1b) partisanship, fractiousness

ἔρις àABD* syrPesh. ἔρεις Text. Rec. with CDbcG etc. latt. syrHarcl. Westcott and Hort margin. - Cambridge Greek NT

jealousy -- emulations, rivalries; ζηλοι, G2205 N-NPM ; an envious and contentious rivalry.

ζῆλος BDgrGgr*syrPesh., ζῆλοι Text. Rec. with àCDbc etc. vulg. syrHarcl., Westcott and Hort margin. - CGNT

fits of anger -- outbursts of wrath, fierceness, indignation, θυμοι, thumos, wrath , G2372, N-NPM.

Thymos is another term which could have a much more noble meaning in another context. Plato saw thymos as the spirited element or vital force of the human soul, which needs to be controlled by intelligent reasoning. - CPNIV

Thymos is a great quality,” Barclay notes, “but thymos needs a strong leash.” When this spirited force is unleashed in the hands of man’s sinful nature, all manner of evil results. In the N.T. the word is often used as a loose synonym for anger (G3709, ὀργή, orgç), but with this occasional distinction: orgç is the “abiding and settled habit of mind,” while thymos is the “turbulent agitation . . . the more passionate, and at the same time more temporary.” - CPNIV

Thayer Definition:

1) passion, angry, heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again

2) glow, ardour, the wine of passion, inflaming wine (which either drives the drinker mad or kills him with its strength)

dissensions -- seditions, divisions, διχοστασιαι dichostasia G1370 N-NPF , (Not so permanent as αἱρέσεις. In the parallel passage, 2 Corinthians 12:20, ἀκαταστασίαι “tumults”).

heresies -- parties, divisions, factions, sects, αιρεσεις heresies. G139 N-NPF; body of men following their own tenets (sect or party), as the Sadducees, or Pharisees, etc. dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims

Verse 21

envy -- envyings, φθόνος, phthonos, G5355 Noun -Nom. Pl. Masc.; Thayer Definition: 1) envy 2) for envy, i.e. prompted by envy.

murders -- φόνος, phonos, G5408 N-NPM Thayer Definition: 1) murder, slaughter .

drunkenness -- G3178, μέθη, methē, Thayer Definition: 1) intoxication; 2) drunkenness.

revelries -- orgies, carousing, revellings, "having wild parties" NCV; G2970

κῶμος, kōmos, Thayer Definition: 1) a revel, carousal; 1a) a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry.

And such like -- "Things like these," You can make your own list!

"Going to heaven doesn’t depend on one’s position, but disposition."

of which I tell you beforehand -- "I warn you" now (again). G4302 , προλέγω, prolegō, Thayer Definition: 1) to say beforehand.

The indication is that Paul doesn’t accuse them of doing these things but warns them again taking up such practices.

just as I also told you in time past -- "I warned you before" when in Galatia, so now he tells them again that none who do these things can expect to be saved.

that those who practice such things --

will not inherit the kingdom of God. --

inherit -- G2816, κληρονομέω, klēronomeō, Thayer Definition:

1) to receive a lot, receive by lot

1a) especially to receive a part of an inheritance, receive as an inheritance, obtain by right of inheritance

1b) to be an heir, to inherit

2) to receive the portion assigned to one, receive an allotted portion, receive as one’s own or as a possession

3) to become partaker of, to obtain

Verse 22

fruit -- Spiritual Harvest; the blessings the Spirit brings to those who allow themselves to be guided by the way the Holy Spirit teaches us.

The fruit which originates or comes from something, an effect, profit, or result.

of the Spirit -- That which is produced from following the teaching and leading of the Holy Spirit.

love -- G26, ἀγάπη, agapē, noble or respectful love, affection, good will, love, benevolence. Love on the highest noble and kingly level. 1 John 3:18; John 13:35;

joy -- χαρά, chara, Gladness, highest delight, Luke 6:23; In God and in salvation.

peace -- Inner peace; and peace between man; and between man and God.

G1515, εἰρήνη, eirēnē, Thayer Definition:

1) a state of national tranquillity

1a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war

2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord

3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)

4) of the Messiah’s peace

4a) the way that leads to peace (salvation)

5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is

6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death

longsuffering -- patience, G3115, μακροθυμία, makrothumia, Thayer Definition:

1) patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance

2) patience, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs

kindness -- gentleness, G5544, χρηστότης, chrēstotēs, Thayer Definition:

1) moral goodness, integrity

2) benignity, kindness

goodness -- G19, ἀγαθωσύνη, agathōsunē, Thayer Definition:

1) uprightness of heart and life, goodness, kindness

Reference is to disposition and character, virtue (Romans 15:14; Ephesians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Sept.: 2 Chronicles 24:16).

WordStudy: ...the Eng. word includes several pleasing qualities whereas the Greek word refers to one particular quality. It is more than chrēstótēs (G5544), gentleness, kindness, a mellowing of character. It is character energized, expressing itself in benevolence, active good.

faithfulness -- G4102, N-NSM. πίστις, pistis, Thayer Definition:

1) conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it

1a) relating to God

1a1) the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ

1b) relating to Christ

1b1) a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God

1c) the religious beliefs of Christians

1d) belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same

2) fidelity, faithfulness

2a) the character of one who can be relied on

Here it seems to be definition 2a) the character of one who can be relied on.

Verse 23

gentleness -- meekness, mildness. Willingness to suffer wrong without resentment, unyielding devotion to right. Matthew 5:5. πραοτης, praotes, Meekness, G4236 N-NSF

Gentleness (prautēs) marks a person who is submissive to God’s Word (cf. James 1:21) and who is considerate of others when discipline is needed (cf. “gently” in Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25; “gentle” in 1 Corinthians 4:21; Ephesians 4:2; “gentleness” in Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 3:16). BKC

It’s idea is "strength under control." An example would be a strong stallion under gentle control by a bridle, or a mighty ox that is gentle to children, etc.

It was a metaphor taken from domesticated animals. Gentleness was not included in the Greek or Stoic lists of virtues, because the Greeks saw it as a weakness. It is uniquely Christian (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:21; 2 Corinthians 10:1; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:25; Titus 3:2). It was used of both Moses (cf. Numbers 12:3) and Jesus (cf. Matthew 11:29; Matthew 21:5). - Utley

self-control -- temperance. εγκρατεια, egkrateia, temperance, G1466 N-NSF.

It is derived from ἐν en and κράτος kratos, “strength,” and has reference to the power or control which we have over exciting and evil passions of all kinds. It denotes the self-rule which a man has over the evil propensities of his nature. (BN)

Self-control (enkrateia; this noun is used in the NT only here and in Acts 24:25; 2 Peter 1:6) denotes self-mastery and no doubt primarily relates to curbing the fleshly impulses just described. - BKC

The capstone of the list, self-control characterizes Christlike maturity (cf. Acts 24:25; Titus 1:8; 2 Peter 1:6). This term was used in 1 Corinthians 7:9 for the control of our sexual drive and that may be alluded to here because of the list of the sexual abuses of pagan worship. - Utley

against such -- A spirit-led life is dominate over a flesh controled life.

there is no law. -- There is no law against these things! These are not the things which the Law denounces. These, therefore, are the true freemen; free from the condemning sentence of the Law, and free in the service of God.

As kind of an understatement, Paul asserted that obviously no one would make laws against people who practice such things.

Verse 24

A spirit-led life is dominate over a flesh controled life.

those who are Christ’s -- Those who belong to Christ. Those whom he has purchased by his blood, and considers as his people, his sheep, and his children.

Christ Jesus -- τοῦ χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. Most uncial MSS which were never copied extensively.

Some MSS (à A B C P Ψ 01221 0278 33 1175 1739 pc co) read "Christ Jesus" here, while many significant ones (Ì46 D F G 0122*,2 latt sy), as well as the Byzantine [majority] text, lack "Jesus." The Byzantine text is especially not prone to omit the name "Jesus"; that it does so here argues for the authenticity of the shorter reading (for similar instances of probably authentic Byzantine shorter readings, see Matthew 24:36 and Philippians 1:14; - NET

have crucified the flesh -- Put to death (or have conrol over) the passions and lusts of the carnal body. They are as though they were dead, and have no sway over us. cf. Galatians 2:20.

The picture is that such passions to do sin have been nailed to a cross, Romans 6:6, and the ceasing to live by, or follow such, happens when one submits in obedience to baptism, Romans 6:3-6.

with its passions and desires -- Corrupt passions which war against the soul.

affections and lusts -- passions and lusts thereof. cf. Romans 1:24.

Verse 25

If we live by the Spirit -- See note also at Galatians 5:16. Since we as Christians profess to be following the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit, then let us truly live according the the way the Holy Spirit teaches.

If the Galatians Christians claim to live by the Spirit, then Paul asks them to prove it by keeping in step and live according to the Spirit.

πνεύματι is probably to be translated ‘by the spirit,” as in Galatians 5:16, - Cambridge Greek NT

by the Spirit let us also walk. -- Let us live the way the Holy Spirit teaches us. The present subjective tense here is "Let us also go on walking by the Spirit." Let our steps follow the steps of the Holy Spirit. (cf. 1 Peter 2:21).

...it regards the walk in relation to others, who are also walking. It suggests unity, and perhaps discipline. - CGNT

Paul is saying, "It is not the Law but the spirit by which we must regulate our life, as I said in Galatians 5:16".

Verse 26

Results of practicing walking by the Spirit.

[Some see this verse as Paul’s summary of chapter 5.]

[Some place this verse as introducing the thought in Gal 6.1-5]

It seems to be transitional statement, working both directions; to what Paul has just said, and what he is ready to say next.

Let us not become -- (cf. NKJV, etc.) "Let us cease becoming ..."

To soften the rebuke, St Paul uses the 1st pers. plur., including himself with those by whom the warning is needed. - CBSC

boastful -- vainglorious, conceited, self-conceited, desirous of vain glory, boastful, proud.

κενοδοξοι (kenodoxoi) desirous of vain glory G2755 A-NPM. A late work only here in the N.T.

Such conduct is a failure to live by the Spirit.

The idea is that those who are boastful (which is vain) are provoking others, and envying them.

provoking -- "challenging, or irritating." προκαλουμενοι provoking G4292 V-PMP-NPM. Thayer "especially to challenge to a combat or contest", to provoke, to irritate.

It seems that Paul is addressing this to the Judaizers who are jealous of Paul, and to provoke him they would call him out to defend himself.

“This is a very instructive verse because it shows that our conduct to others is determined by our opinion of ourselves.” (Stott, p. 156.

envying -- Paul has just mentioned enmity, strife, jealousy and envy as "works of the flesh" in general. - ESVSB

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Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Galatians 5". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/galatians-5.html. 2021.